25 May 2023
 | 25 May 2023
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESSD.

ET-WB: water balance-based estimations of terrestrial evaporation over global land and major global basins

Jinghua Xiong, Abhishek, Li Xu, Hrishikesh A. Chandanpurkar, James S. Famiglietti, Chong Zhang, Gionata Ghiggi, Shenglian Guo, Yun Pan, and Bramha Dutt Vishwakarma

Abstract. Evaporation (ET) is one of the crucial components of the water cycle, which serves as the nexus between global water, energy, and carbon cycles. Accurate quantification of ET is, therefore, pivotal in understanding various earth system processes and subsequent societal applications. The prevailing approaches for ET retrievals are either limited in spatiotemporal coverage or largely influenced by choice of input data or simplified model physics, or a combination thereof. Here, using an independent mass conservation approach, we develop water balance-based ET datasets (ET-WB) for the global land and the selected 168 major river basins. We generate 4669 probabilistic unique combinations of the ET-WB leveraging multi-source datasets (23 precipitation, 29 runoff, and 7 storage change datasets) from satellite products, in-situ measurements, reanalysis, and hydrological simulations. We compare our results with the four auxiliary global ET datasets and previous regional studies, followed by a rigorous discussion of the uncertainties, their possible sources, and potential ways to constrain them. The seasonal cycle of global ET-WB possesses a unimodal distribution with the highest (median value: 65.61 mm/month) and lowest (median value: 36.11 mm/month) values in July and January, respectively, with the spread range of roughly ±10 mm/month from different subsets of the ensemble. Auxiliary ET products illustrate similar intra-annual characteristics with some over/under-estimation, which are completely within the range of the ET-WB ensemble. We found a gradual increase in global ET-WB from 2003 to 2010 and a subsequent decrease during 2010–2015, followed by a sharper reduction in the remaining years primarily attributed to the varying precipitation. Multiple statistical metrics show reasonably good accuracy of monthly ET-WB (e.g., a relative bias of ±20 %) in most river basins, which ameliorates at annual scales. The long-term mean annual ET-WB varies within 500–600 mm/yr and is consistent with the for auxiliary ET products (543–569 mm/yr). Observed trend estimates, though regionally divergent, are evidence of the increasing ET in a warming climate. The current dataset will likely be useful for several scientific assessments centering around water resources management to benefit society at large. The dataset is publicly available at (Xiong et al., 2023).

Jinghua Xiong et al.

Status: open (until 20 Jul 2023)

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Jinghua Xiong et al.

Data sets

ET-WB: water balance-based estimations of terrestrial evaporation over global land and major global basins Xiong Jinghua, Abhishek, Xu Li, Hrishikesh A. Chandanpurkar, James S. Famiglietti, Zhang Chong, Gionata Ghiggi, Bramha Dutt Vishwakarma, Guo Shenglian, and Pan Yun

Jinghua Xiong et al.


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Short summary
To overcome the shortcomings associated with limited spatiotemporal coverage, input data quality, and model simplifications in prevailing evaporation (ET) estimates, here, we developed an ensemble of 4669 unique terrestrial ET subsets using an independent mass balance approach. Long-term mean annual ET is within 500–600 mm/yr with a unimodal seasonal cycle and several piecewise trends during 2002–2021. The uncertainty-constrained results underpin the notion of increasing ET in a warming climate.